If you can Get(ty) there…
August 14, 2011 § 10 Comments
Go north on the Pac Coast Highway to Malibu and watch for the sign.
This magnificent place, invisible from the road, has a single right-lane turn only as its approach.
First “stop” as you drive nearly vertically uphill is a check point where you’re asked if you have your ticket reservations.
Um, no, we don’t followed by hopeful smile.
The guard pats his pocket, then says “we have some here…” he pauses – ( should i tip him?) so I pause, too…and he does, after long moments, pull two tickets from his shirt pocket and hands them over. We drive up to the next check point. What will happen here?
The guard takes our tickets, says we’re good to go for the 3 o’clock entrance and I demure, with lifted eyebrows, asking if we are allowed to walk around prior to a 3 o clock entry?
Oh, no, you can go right in. We just “clock ’em to even out crowds if necessary.
We drive on, slowly on the giant cobblestones that discourage any speed quicker than that of a turtle on holiday.
We have disappeared into foliage, then there is a garage, and the hint of some splendid concrete building, but nothing more to disembark, take an elevator and come out onto a patio of sorts (last picture) above and look around.
Egads. This is already a wonderful stop. We see the sea, and it really isn’t far off at all though it appears to be in the picture.
The sun is bright, we are enveloped here in the privacy of “museum” and follow paths that open to an amphitheatre (pictured) and the “villa” to the right. We descend again in an elevator to reach the first floor of the Villa and enter. At this point, I wouldn’t care if I saw any artwork at all. The place itself is art.
Built (within) to reflect a Roman home. For those of you who studied Latin, you’ll remember the atrium being the most important “place,” where guest are greeted, with mosaic on the floor around the impluvium (not pictured). Surrounding the atrium were the master famiy’s main rooms – bedrooms, study, dining room. The back of the house was focused around the peristyleum which had a small garden typically surrounded by columns and from here, the bathrooms, kitchen and triclunium where the family took its meals in the nicest weather. The peristyleum has no roof.
However, in my blithe attempts at picturing this unique museum, I have given only glimpses of some of the architecture found on site; this museum is not a copy of a Roman household by any means but imitates on the its first level, partially, the general set up of such a household.
The grapes, pictures above, are real. Some of the other “architectural” photos are trompe l’oeil. But you won’t be fooled. And the statues are real, unique, authentic and more than 2000 years old. Remarkable. The umbrellas are for guests who walk about en plein air at this marvelous villa perched and anchored hillside.
Getty has quite an art stash here at the Villa, reflecting the study of Greece, Rome and Etruria.
The Getty Center in LA is a whole other story, featuring his collection of Western Art from Middle Ages to the present.
It’s an experience to visit the Villa whose architecture and structure is as fascinating as the cultures portrayed within it.